QUESTION: My grandson will be three in
April, and he has problems pronouncing certain letter sounds. He is
very intelligent otherwise, and is far beyond many children in his
preschool class. He becomes very frustrated when he's trying to communicate
with us, as we can't always understand him. His parents don't want
to accept the fact that he possibly needs speech therapy. They say
it's too early and that his speech will improve as he gets older.
I am an educator and know that something needs to be done right now.
How do I convince them?
ANSWER: The good news is that your grandson
is very intelligent and has a grandmother who is an educator to boot!
Clearly you are a resource for him. The bad news is that this is a
delicate situation for you and your grandchild's parents, who may
not want to hurt your feelings by disagreeing with your point of view
at this time. This is an area in which you must tread carefully in
order to get your points across for consideration, but without condemnation.
You must also respect the pace and manner in which the parents approach
the situation. Parents can be sensitive to criticism when taking a
different route from any professional opinion, especially a professional
who is also a grandmother!
It appears that your grandson's parents are not denying
a problem, but are choosing a path of less intervention at this time.
Choosing a "wait-and-see" approach is not necessarily ignoring the
problem, but rather involves watching to see what will emerge. Consider
their responses to you. Statements such as "It is too early" and "His
speech will improve as he gets older" are not statements of denial,
but of observation. Consider, too, that it is likely that your grandson's
parents receive feedback from his preschool teacher and others who
have contact with him. No doubt they are aware of his frustration
and are monitoring the situation.
Certainly you should share your knowledge with them.
If you know of different approaches to this situation, by all means
let them know other views, but be careful not to introduce your ideas
in an authoritarian manner. Allow your voice to be heard, but acknowledge
other opinions, too. Unnecessary pressure on them to "see it your
way" or the "do the right thing" could alienate them, rather than
support your grandson's learning process. If you approach them with
an attitude of respect for their parenting, keeping in your heart
the belief that they are addressing rather than ignoring the problem,
you will likely get a warmer reception for your ideas. But do not
expect them to jump on the bandwagon!
Give your grandson's parents the benefit of the doubt.
Do not take an attitude of trying to convince them. This already creates
a challenge to their authority and competence as parents. No doubt
you can recall your experiences as a young mother, and the sensitivity
to criticism that parents often experience when in the midst of a
decision about the best interests of their young child. They need
your support to make their own decisions. Avoid adopting a superior
position. Instead, join their team. Congratulate them on their careful
and thoughtful approach. And consider their views, too. Offer your
beliefs on the advantages of addressing speech therapy earlier rather
than later. But leave it at that!
Your role as a grandparent is to offer suggestions,
not to make decisions. I know how frustrating this can be, believe
me! And sometimes we grandmothers are rewarded by parents who decide
later that our advice was valuable after all.
Being a grandparent can sometimes feel like a ride
on a roller coaster. Now and then, we need to learn how to let go
and just enjoy the ride!